Monday, March 31, 2014

Ya can't eat that salmon until ya catch it

That title is a teaser....I'll get to that part but first I wanted to recognize a big event in Alaska history. Last Friday was the 50th anniversary of the big earth quack, there's things our generation will never forget where they were the moment it happened, JFK's murder, 9/11 and if you've ever been through a 9.2 earth quack you'd never forget that as well. My family was stationed at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks about 500 miles as the crow fly's from the epicenter. Here's a pic of me during that era, looking quite angelic eh???
I was in 6th grade at the time , we had three classes of 6th graders forming 6-1 through 6-3 and I don't think I ended up in 6-1 based on my academic future but rather than the fact that I was an officers kid. But it was Friday  after school and all of 6-1 was going to a birthday party at Leslie Lindig's house, her dad was the hospital commander and my dad was the executive officer. We lived in an 8-plex which was  'Colonels row' and the Lindigs were across base in a stand alone home. We were in the basement and Chuck Berry had just came out with The Twist and the record player was kind of low so the parents could hear what was going on. The girls were dancing together while us guys did the awkward lets stare at em thing and act like we don't want to dance.  But I kinda had a hook on Anna Potts and was figuring on a dance or two when it's a pic of Leslie herself dancing at the 6-1 Christmas party with a girl I remember named Inez.  In the background is Eddie Atkinson and Emory Lipscomb, the Generals kid.
The  basement seemed to lift on one side and then fall on the other. I remember it was a feeling a bit like you've experienced on a carnival ride when you feel kind of weightlessness.  Nobody fell down or anything but if Leslie's mom wouldn't have hollered for us to come upstairs we'd all have stayed. Soon we were on the yard watching the street not really 'roll' as some have described but I thought it just rocked up and down...and it lasted a long time. I remember I wasn't scared, kind of hard to scare a 11 year old but I do know the adults were scared and that was enough for most everybody else. The telephone lines were out and we were all driven home by the Lindigs. Of course my dad was gone for many days as the entire State of Alaska mobilized to help. My brother was skiing at Birch Hill and was in the middle of a run and never felt it, my sister I don't remember where she was. My Aunt Lee who just recently passed away was actually in the new JC Penney Store in Anchorage that collapsed causing some of the Anchorage fatalities. 

Two things stick out in my my mom and was so worried for her sister and the kids in Anchorage and how relieved she was when using the military communications we were able to find out that all was fine. My uncle Rannals never even got a scratch on the two door Impala that he loved. The other thing was church.  There wasn't much a 6th grader could do to help but my mom being the ultra catholic that she was put us kids to work at praying for all the impacted, families that had lost loved ones, their homes, their boats, seemingly their futures. The rest of the story we all know, Alaskan's are resilient and the rebuilding started immediately. the ' you can't count your chickens until they hatch''s a picture of my NCAA brackets.
Done. And I was feelings so good about it a week ago. Cyclones....gone. Lousville....gone. Michigan State....gone....and Duke....I'm really mad at them guys. But for me the big story is the Badgers. I'm with you Dave, we're rooting them along all the way.  The overtime game was fantastic. And this guy here is so cool, the joy and emotion he showed when he hit that 3-pointer is to me what makes the tournament, and never mind that just watching a 7 footer tingle the twine from long range is unusually fun, excellent.
Frank Kaminsky reminds me  bit of my favorite all time college player, a guy named Bryant 'Big Country' Reeves that played at Oklahoma State a few years back. Frank towers over the other players just like Bryant did but has the soft hands and good foot movement that some big men don't. He's just fun to watch and also like Bryant his love for the game he wears on his sleeve. Bryant went on to have a ho-hum pro career but because of his performance in the NCAA tourney I followed him through it all....just like I'm going to do for you Frank. So good luck Wisconsin and Frank....I'm a fan for life so how's about a few more 3-pointers this week eh ???

Monday, March 24, 2014

March Madness

I played a little round ball as a kid and at one time I might have been the L.A. Lakers biggest fan.  But I'm over all that now and like most of America and am absolutely taken by the NCAA tournament. It has to be the coolest showcase for amateur sports in the country. So every year I put my brackets together and some years it good, some years it's bad.... I had a coach who used to say, " you win some, you lose some and some you never should have dressed out for. Well this year I'm a crushing them, here's a pic of my brackets, I have 12 of the 'sweet 16'...
I'm guy who runs his life with his heart so sometimes I pick teams based on other reasons that if I think they'll win. Like Duke, ever since Anchorages Trajan Langdon took them to the Championships I've picking them for the final four...well after this years and last years performance I'm semi done with that deal. And how about Iowa State, that game against North Carolina was about as thrilling as it gets. The Cyclones always have a great program and I have them to go to the final 4, I guess we'll see. I guess I'm kind of proud of myself here at Mile 14, guess I do recreation pretty darn well.

Speaking of March Madness, congratulations to this guy who just won the annual Homer Winter King Salmon Derby.
Now I don't begrudge anybody harvesting a few salmon, lord knows I've executed a few of them....but does it seem odd to anybody besides me that while we're experiencing a time of low abundance of King Salmon all over south central and western Alaska these guys are having a derby for them ???? Two hundred and two, that's right 202 of them were killed on Saturday. This fishery is fairly new and growing, it's done 365 days a year and the yearly derby harvests 202 in one day, does that make sense to anybody ???? Of course people will tell you that they're 'feeder' kings and even our local newspaper outdoor writer recently said that they are ' mostly' from Canada. Mmmmmm, well in Jeff's world that miserably fails the common sense test.  Like our local Kings would swim thousands of mile out to sea and ignore all the local food forage that these ' Canadian' Kings seem to be finding. I doubt it. So.....mmm.....ahhh....their Kings come to Alaska and Alaska Kings go to Canada, problem solved.....hows about we'll quit catching yours if you quit catching ours. AND theres another problem, they call this a 'Winter King' Derby. It's not winter at all, it's now officially spring and we're only 4 or 5 weeks away from when King salmon begin to enter the local streams and rivers of this part of Alaska. So if any of you might agree with me feel free to forward this blog on to the Dept. of Fish and Game so they'll have some more common sense to ignore.  Yikes. I feel better now though having spit that one out.... I could go on, but I won't. Done. Finished.

The big news here is the weather. When I opened the paper this morning the forecast had 5 of these babies lined up like ducks in a row. In fact it looked just like the forecast for Mazatlán with just a few, well quite a few degrees of difference.  It's getting up to 40 in the afternoons and the river is running...I guess what I'm saying is that it's just gorgeous here at Mile 14. The other day we had a nice sauna down at the river, then went for a walk where you come across scenes like that's something you don't see every day....Oh, my final four.  Florida, Arizona, Iowa Sate, Louisville...and the winner is Louisville again.

Monday, March 17, 2014


You guys know me. I never run out of things to talk about, well almost never. But this has been a weird week, it's been my re entry week and not much has been going on here at Mile 14. I guess we missed one of the strangest winters of all time and we can kinda see the remnants of it. There's no snow, it's so icy that for me and jet-dog every walk is a potential hip breaker, the town is quiet, fish news is over, the line at the Post Office today was one, I run into people who say " welcome home"'s cool. Here's a pic of my favorite thing. That poor old river has broken up and flowed and refroze so many times this year  it just has to be confused, but hang on baby, summers coming and as my friend Dan Sterchi says " the fish are running and life's easy". I hope.
St. Paddy's day was once stupid for me....that's all I gotta say about that. But this morning at the gym as I chatted with Mike Sweeney our local celebrity Irishman I realized how excited he was for the day and the annual parade that he's always Grand Marshall of. Of course I'm not one to miss anything so it's a stand on the south side of the spur highway, the school kids and church kids come by, then the guys from the radio station and then one or two 'causes' and of course Joe Kashi and his Judo students this becoming a run on sentence ? But the point is, like life itself it's  the same every year but with subtle differences you have to notice, you have to look for, it's there, it really is. And it's my home, my people ,my friends. So here's a few pics of the event.  I especially like the pic of my gym-rat friend Nathan up close....see ya tomorrow buddy.
I wish I could describe to you just how hard it's snowing right now. As descriptive as I can be...all I can say is imagine the heaviest, wettest,biggest, slowest flakes you've ever seen. And for my friends who have never seen snow, and I have a lot of those....imagine the most wonderful white, and it's moving  so it makes everything behind it look grey. If you focus on the snow it becomes a blur, if you focus on trees they become a blur.....I'll write more real soon. I hope you come back.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

No matter where you go...there you are

I know that sounds stupid but it's really how I'm trying to live my life. Tomorrow me and MPeasy  gotta jump the jet.  I guess it's one of the nice things of ageing, I'm learning not to be in a hurry for anything. I'm typing this from an outdoor palapa at 5:30 a.m. wearing shorts....that's hard to give up, but where I'm going, home to Mile 14 is a pretty cool thing to. MP says I could stay and I guess I could but we don't want to be one of  'those' couples...we gotta be together and I love her more than I love Mazatlán so it's adios MZT, hola Slowdotna.

As we were walking out the malecon the other night I looked back at where the carnival parade was headed and snapped this pic. Now Mazatlán gets some bad press from time to time but I'm here to tell you the people are what I call 100% ers , I mean in how many business districts do you see this ?

It's unusually warm in Alaska I guess so when I get home the ' re entry' that I experience every year might be a little different. The river is already open and running so we'll have the earliest marine salvage season of all time. Maybe I'll find a record anchor harvest.  I'll go to work hard on cleaning and burning all the dead fall we have on the property at what we call the Black Forrest portion of Mile 14. In other words, I'm gonna try to stay busy. So it's sunseta on MZT 2014, the time flys, I just hope to stay healthy and happy, returning every year just like those birds and whales we see in both places.
My fish count wasn't outstanding this year. The warm water kept the Corvina away and although those Roosterfish that I love where everywhere I only caught one. But the joy is in the pursuit and I certainly did a ton of that. I fished new places with new friends. I caught Bass, I caught Robalo, I caught Snapper and even a few Corvina and of course....Toro heaven. There's a pic of my last one.
A couple months ago as we left Slah's house  I snapped this pic of him. Outstanding. It really captures his character and I'm going to miss his friendship. He has a boyishness about him that makes our fishing trips seem like we're transported in time. Out on a secluded playa, just us, focused on just fishing.......Adios buddy and thanks for everything.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The 1st hundred years are the roughest

Yours truly there ( on the left) really isn't doing very well. The other day I told MP that I'd been lucky in that I'd not had one of my vertigo attacks for many years, I must have felt a twinge of it then because within two days later I had it. I was alone downtown when I had the first spinning spell and it sort of scared me for wondering how I'd get home. I sat still and finally the spinning fatigued like it will and I got back...but, it's terrible since then. I have the most common type, BPPV- benign proximinal, positional vertigo. The otolith in your ear releases crystals that fall into the ear fluid that keeps your balance and walla...pure hell. The spinning episodes happen when I turn my head just right and this morning it was brought on by the sounds and sights of the surf rolling up and down the beach. Once again I was several miles from home and struggled to get back....but I had to go fishing...I had to, we only have a week left and I can't squander the mornings.  For all of you that know me so well this will give you give you an idea...I missed 4 mornings in a row of fishing including an  invite to go south with Slah where Team X caught over 20 corvina.
Perhaps the worst part of these vestibular events is that after the spinning stops it shocks your brain so much and your brain works so hard to compensate that it creates what my doctor calls ' brain fade'. It's just a lousy lethargic feeling underlined by forgetfulness. Wow...I struggle through life on a good day, running on 3 cylinders ain't easy....I in the world can a guy forget the words to Brown Eyed Girl ??? So I just stay close to home I guess and wear my ear plugs so the wind doesn't make the situation worse. I can tell MP is worried about me and that bothers me... The good news I guess is that although this episode seems to be a real bad one Dr. Zirrul told me that the fatigue works this way, the more spinning the better your brain gets at stopping it. If I'm not better soon or at least when I'm back in Alaska I'll go to the Dr. and have a thing called the ' Eppley Maneauver' done which is a head manipulation designed to use gravity and centrifugal force to get those pesky crystals out of the ear canal. Wish me luck, I could use some.
But in between spinning the other day I had a moment of clarity when I saw the tide so ultra low that it exposed rocks I'd never seen before. I think I was born for life on the sea as I kinda saw a buffet table. MP and I started out gathering oysters which I got enough of for a nice oyster stew lunch when I kind stepped into a hole next to a rock. I could feel lobsters brushing my legs as they skittered away. So I reached about arms length into the water and yup....I got em but the darn things wedge themselves into the rocks so tight it's almost impossible to muscle them out. BUT, as I'm at water level I notice these stone crabs.
Now it takes a certain type of guy to feel around under rocks where you can't see whats there. In fact as I fished this morning a guy named Ricardo told me about all the Moray eels we have around here... mmm...but it's risk reward. These crabs and the few lobster I had made a wonderful cold salad with avocados as we watched the Academy Awards last night...I might be running a quart low right now but I'm making do, great appetite and muddling on.  No worries, I'll blog something fun as soon as I feel that way....soon I hope.